I remember years ago when people were debating the assisted suicide issue they said it would lead to a slippery slope where more and more conditions would result in euthanasia. It was supposed to be that euthanasia would be reserved for terminal illnesses where all hope was lost and the patient was in constant pain. Critics said euthanasia would spread beyond such conditions to just about everyone who wanted to die for one reason or another. I thought they were exaggerating. I certainly want to reserve the euthanasia option for myself should I be in a situation of constant pain and no hope of recovery. I can also see how euthanasia would be a merciful end to the life of an elderly person lost forever in the deepest depths of dementia from which they will never recover. Well, now it seems the critics did have a valid point. In the Netherlands it is being reported that euthanasia is being allowed for various mental illnesses. In fact, a twenty something woman was allowed to end her life because of the incurable PTSD she suffered from a rape earlier in life. According to the story:
“Whereas just two people had themselves euthanised in the country in 2010 due to an “insufferable” mental illness, 56 people did so last year, a trend which sparked concern among ethicists.”
And then there is this little gem:
“Paulan Stärcke, who will present her findings at the Euthanasia 2016 conference in Amsterdam Thursday, told The Telegraph that even children as young as 12 who ask to end their lives should be taken seriously.”
“Other speakers at the conference will discuss euthanasia worldwide for terminally ill children, and people who are “tired of life”.”
These are exactly the less than justifiable reasons we were warned about 20 years ago. While terminal illness is one thing (no point in letting people hang on in constant pain while waiting to die) mental illnesses are another thing entirely. Could this girl in her twenties have been helped by some as of yet untried treatment? She had another 60 plus years ahead of her. Will her rapist now be charged with murder? These are tough questions, but valid ones. In another case a thirty-four year old woman with a three year old child was allowed to end her life because she was depressed and it was feared she would commit suicide anyway. I’ve got to hand it to the critics on this one – we have come a long way down a dark road. How can someone who is mentally ill still have the sound judgement to make an end of life decision? Will the system be abused to rid the world of vulnerable or unpopular groups of people? Do we trust “professionals” and bureaucrats to make these kinds of decisions? This article raises so many questions I can’t think of them all. At the very least this issue needs a lot more thought. I wonder if society even has the moral clarity to tackle this issue. I wonder what C.S. Lewis would think of today’s culture and its priorities. I think it’s time for a new debate on this issue.